PANTHERS coach Ivan Cleary has hit out at those criticising the culture of rugby league in the wake of Penrith’s recent sex tape scandal.
Over the past fortnight, several lewd videos of Panthers players have emerged, and as a result Tyrone May has been charged by police.
A number of pundits have slammed the culture of rugby league in recent weeks, with former NSW Origin coach Laurie Daley leading the charge.
Daley publicly lashed out at the Panthers amid the sex tape drama, going as far as to say that he would not want his children going anywhere near Penrith.
However, Cleary says that instead of criticising rugby league, the critics should be leading change. He also claims that today’s players have more knowledge of how to conduct themselves off the field.
“If you’re involved in the game and you want to criticise it then you probably need to take responsibility, being part of that culture,” Cleary said in a press conference ahead of Penrith’s round 1 derby against Parramatta.
“Coaches, players, administrators, journalists, we’re all a part of rugby league and I don’t think that the modern-day player is any worse- [and is] possibly even better- than what’s come before us.
“The environment has definitely changed but I’d say if anything, today’s players are more aware than ever before.”
Cleary also says that he has confronted bigger problems in his coaching career, having been the Warriors coach at the time of Sonny Fai’s passing.
“I’ve dealt with harder stuff in the past where there’s absolutely no manual for it,” Cleary said.
“At the Warriors when we lost one of our great young players, Sonny Fai, that was probably the most difficult thing I’ve had to deal with.
“That’s part of being a coach, you’ve got to do your best on the run. But essentially, we’re dealing with young men who from time to time, just like any other person, have issues come up and you’ve just got to navigate your way through as best you can.”
Penrith’s 2019 NRL season begins this Sunday when they face fierce rivals Parramatta in a at Panthers Stadium.